Wednesday, March 25, 2020

JJ Files Complaint Against Library Board

JJ filed an Open Meetings Act complaint against the Jackson-Hinds Library System Board of Trustees yesterday with the Mississippi Ethics Commission.  The Board took several actions in March 2019 even though a quorum was not present.  The Board also discussed and voted on several items in executive session in August 2019 even though said items are exempted from the Open Meetings Act.   JJ asked the Commission to void all actions taken at the March meeting and August Executive Session. 

The Board had its regular meeting on March 26, 2019.  Only six members attended the meeting - Dr. Earline Strickland, Mary Garner, Imelda Brown, Dr. Alferdteen Harrison, Chester Jones, and Chairman Rickey Jones - while six members were absent.  There are two vacancies on the Board.  However, the by-laws state that a quorum only exists when a majority of the members are present:


Eight  (8) members  at any regular  or special  meeting  will constitute a quorum authorized  to
transact  Board  business and  to take actions as approved  by the vote of a majority  of  those
present.
The minutes were modified last year to require a simple majority to make a quorum yet the Board would not have met the more lax requirements. Despite not having a quorum, the Board moved full speed ahead as it plowed through the agenda, voting here and voting there.  The Board voted to:

1. Approve minutes of February meeting.
2. Approved agenda
3. Approved a motion asking Mississippi Library Commission to continue a grant program at the current formula.
4. Approved travel expenses for Executive Director.
5. Approved accepting financial and human resources  reports.
6. Approved changing dates of monthly meetings.
7. Approved changing terms of officers to two years from one year.
8. Approved three other amendments to the by-laws.


However, this wasn't the last time the Board ignored the Open Meetings Act last year.  The Board conducted a whole bunch of regular bidness in Executive Session at the August 2019 meeting.  The Open Meetings Act is rather specific on what can be discussed in Executive Session: 

* Personnel matters
* Litigation
* Plans regarding security personnel and devices
* Investigations by the public body ( Jackson water investigation, for example)
* Economic development

What did the Board discuss at the August 2019 meeting?*

* Voted not to renew internet services contract for River Hills office
* Approved law library contract with Hinds County
* Appointed a committee to investigate moving or rebuilding Byram library.
* Informing Jackson and Hinds County it would cede all interest in Tisdale library.
* Accepted and discussed regular financial report.
* Accepted and discussed regular technical services report.
* Accepted and discussed regular public services report. 






The minutes state:


Rev. McDaniels moved, second by Dr. Harrison, that the Board enter Executive Session to discuss budgetary and personnel matters, and that Mrs. Brenette Nichols, Director for Human Resources, would remain to record minutes of the Executive Session. 
  Hmmm...... do any of these items pass muster under the Open Meetings Act? One Board member had such a question.  The September Board minutes state:

Mr. C.R. Jones, Board Parliamentarian, expressed concerns about the actions taken in the Executive Session of the meeting as to the nature of the matters discussed, the character of the  motions enacted, and the census of the votes, all of which should have been made known to the  general body after the Executive Session.

Chairman Rickey Jones replied that the Executive Session was undertaken to discuss matters related to personnel and the budget and that all actions were taken unanimously.
There was a unanimous vote.  That settles it.  No violation of the Open Meetings Act took place. 

 Well, whether there were violations will be questions answered by the Ethics Commission.

Stay tuned.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

BOOK EM DANNO!

Anonymous said...

Well, SOMEONE needed to do this! Glad you did it! The Board needs to be accountable to the public.Thank you for your interest.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Kingfish. But you must remember all these people who are appointed by 'certain folks' are totally exempt from laws on the books. They got rights and privileges and also immunity. It's their turn. Don't rock the jon boat.

Dewey Decibel said...

THROW THE BOOK AT THEM! A MOLDY BOOK! And please remove the associated card from the file. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

How do you modify the minutes?

Anonymous said...

Now this is some serious shit that we need to get tot he bottom of right now. Forget the poor people understaffed and scared. Let's burden them wit a public records request. KF, this lightweight shit can wait. The evidence is not going anywhere.

Cynical Sam said...

This is a new page out of the KF book of take no prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Move along 9:42 if you don't care for the proprietor's approach to operations. Nothing forcing you to read anything here.

Michael Wolf said...

Kingfish,
I don't want to comment on whether you are right or wrong in this matter. But, what you are doing here is so important to the idea of good government, and we should all very much appreciate that you are using these processes to test our boards and commissions. Good government is transparent, and the exceptions to transparency must never swallow the rule.
Keep doing what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

I remember when a Hinds County post would generate a lot of comments. Nobody cares any more. Not about the library or Hinds County.

Anonymous said...

Hinds County...is that in Vermont?

Anonymous said...

Is the air conditioning on at Richard Wright? If not, the books there will end up like the ones at Tisdale. Sad.

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